"The decision on where to educate one's child requires a great deal of prayer, financial resources and faith in a higher learning institution's tradition, values and leadership"
In response to a controversial choice by American Baptist College (ABC) leadership to invite three active proponents of same-sex marriage to speak and lead worship at the College's distinguished annual Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Series and preach at the worship services, a group of pastors within the National Baptist Convention (NBC) have informally convened to express their concerns at a press conference held at the Renaissance Hotel on Tuesday, March 17.
The three presenters to which the group objects are United Church of Christ Bishop Yvette Flunder, who is legally married to a woman and who has advocated for her position publicly; Pastor Delman Coates, who successfully led the campaign to win the popular vote for same-sex marriage in Maryland; and Alan Bosaek, who attempted to persuade the South African Dutch Reformed Church to affirm same-sex marriage.
Known as the National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors, the pastors want to hold accountable the president and board of trustees of ABC, which is owned and operated by the orthodox, Bible-believing denomination which holds to a biblical view of marriage, for their misguided decision to invite the chosen speakers to helm the lecture series, "Ministry in Motion: Living Faith, Doing Justice."
The pastors have attempted to reach out to ABC President Forrest Harris in hopes of starting a constructive conversation around this issue, but he has not responded to their phone calls or emails. Speaking for the group, Pastor W. Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, is troubled by ABC's implicit application of the word "justice" to the positioning of same-sex marriage within the context of Christian orthodoxy.
"The board and administration of ABC have adopted our vocabulary, but not our dictionary," McKissic said. "This is a moral issue, rather than one of social justice; our concern about Bishop Flunder preaching at the worship service is not about intellectual or educational inquiry, but indoctrination of a worldview placed on the pedestal of theological authority.
"As a result," Pastor McKissic continued, "ABC is deliberately exposing young people to unorthodox views in a worship and preaching setting that wrongly affirms them as biblical truth, rather than more appropriately discussing them in a solely academic exercise."
The move by ABC to affirm same-sex marriage through these three speakers violates the official position of the College's governing religious body, the NBC, which declared in a statement issued in January 2014 that, "In all matters of Faith and Practice, National Baptists are guided by Holy Scriptures. Genesis 2:18-25 shows God's concern for relationships by creating the woman to be a partner with man."
The NBC additionally asserted that while endorsed NBC Chaplains serve in a "pluralistic environment," providing compassionate pastoral support to all individuals based on a traditional interpretation of Scripture, they are "not to participate in any activity that implies or condones same-sex marriage or same-sex union."
Additionally, Pastor McKissic and his colleagues wish to make the parents of ABC students aware of controversial messages contrary to the denomination's adherence to biblical standards for marriage and sexuality that their sons and daughters may receive through the lecture series' speakers.
"The decision on where to educate one's child requires a great deal of prayer, financial resources and faith in a higher learning institution's tradition, values and leadership," Pastor McKissic said. Our main reasons for making this information public is so that parents can;
The National Baptist Fellowship of Concerned Pastors is also distributing a petition for other faith leaders to sign in support of the group's concerns, available at www.change.org. The pastors stress that they are in no way officially or unofficially representative of the NBC, but speak out for the sake of an informed and aware public.
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